Thursday, October 4, 2007

Eye Weekly: Vote for real change

Toronto's Eye Weekly ran an excellent editorial today on the October 10th referendum/election, entitled, "Vote for real change." We couldn't agree more with the editorial's comments on the proposed, new voting system.

Here's an excerpt:

"The referendum on electoral reform allows us a clear choice between the warped current system and a more democratic system called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).

"The existing system, misleadingly called “first past the post,” is, as conservative columnist Andrew Coyne has pointed out, a winner-take-all system. Voters select from among multiple options in their local race, and the candidate who gets the most votes (which can be as few as 25 per cent) gets the seat. All others are shut out: allowed no representation in parliament. On the provincial level, this has led to hugely powerful “majority governments” who won elections with the support of less than half of voters. The last time an Ontario government actually had a mandate from a majority of voters was 1937. In other provinces, some majority governments have won every single seat in the legislature with fewer than half the votes; in British Columbia, a majority government once received fewer votes than their opponents. Meanwhile, parties with as much as 10 per cent of the vote are shut completely out of parliament. This is not democracy.

"MMP is a vastly superior system. Under MMP, voters cast two votes: one for a local representative, one for a party. The first vote elects members to the legislature under the same first-past-the-post system, and then the remaining one third of seats are alotted to ensure the seat distribution mirrors the popular vote for each party. Therefore, if a party gets 10 per cent of the vote, they'll get 10 per cent of the seats; if they get 45 per cent of the vote, they get 45 per cent of the seats.

"Last week we used this space to outline some lingering concerns about MMP. Much conversation and further research have convinced us that those concerns were unfounded. The system is not as complicated as it is made out to be. Rather than producing legislative gridlock, the minority governments produced under MMP in other countries using the system have been highly functional coalitions. Wing-nut fringe parties are shut out by a 3 per cent threshold. And the “list candidates,” selected by the party, are preferable or no worse than the existing system that allows parties to appoint candidates and even sometimes premiers without consulting the electorate. Under MMP there will be no more false majorities. The legislature will represent the will of the electorate. That's democracy.

"On Oct. 10, vote for real democracy in Ontario. Vote for MMP."

No comments: